Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updates from Chocolate Bar

Chocolate Bar in the West Village was the very first chocolate shop we wrote about on this blog, way back in ye olden days of September. And today we're going back there because... they have a new beverage!

You remember how much we love the Chocolate Bar iced hot chocolate in the summertime. Well, their new beverage is a spicy hot chocolate, and it is awesome. It has such a wonderful mixture of spices in it, and it's unique and so warming. The spice comes through very clearly, and the chocolate does too-- this is a hard balance to strike, as usually more spiciness means less chocolatiness.

BOTTOM LINE: Chocolate Bar now has perfect beverages for summer and winter. It's no wonder I keep going back... like way more often than I should... like, I find excuses to walk up Hudson Street when really I have no reason to be there.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Extraordinary Desserts, San Diego

So I came from San Francisco and New York, two of the world's greatest chocolate cities, to San Diego, a city not known for its chocolate at all.  My friend Nick took me to Extraordinary Desserts, saying that it was one of the best places in San Diego.  I wanted dessert, but I was not expecting much.

WOW.  Chocolate croissant bread pudding.  Who would've thought?  You guys.  It was incredible.  I can't even explain.  It was so good, I ordered a slice of the "Au Chocolat" flourless chocolate cake to-go:

Even eaten later, out of a to-go box, it was delicious.  Just look at that -- you can't go wrong.

Bottom Line: Do not underestimate the less famous chocolate cities!  There are gems everywhere!

Foray to Massachusetts #7: J.P. Licks

Boston is a city known for its ice cream. It has a lot of ice cream shops that could arguably be called the best in the city: Emack & Bolio's, Lizzy's, and Toscanini's, to list only a few examples.

For what it's worth, my vote is for J. P. Licks. I have mentioned J. P. Licks before, in my Downtown Boston Chocolate Walking Tour, and I'm sure I will mention J. P. Licks again. It's hard to say enough good things about them.

For starters, check out these flavors:

And the flavors change every month, too! My go-to choices are the mint Oreo, the Oreo cake batter, and the brownie brownie batter. But usually there are so many good monthly flavors that I don't even have room in my cup for the old standbys.

This time around I went with a scoop of the ginger snap molasses and a scoop of the extreme chocolate.

Both flavors were excellent. And that's what really sets J. P. Licks apart: it's not just that their flavor concepts sound good. It's that the execution lives up to the descriptions.

BOTTOM LINE: My top contender for best ice cream in Boston.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DT Works closed

While I was away.  I never got a chance to say goodbye.  And it seems the whole Dessert Truck empire has folded with it.  The world is a worse place.

At least Angel managed to pry away the recipe for their ridiculously unbelievable double chocolate cookies before they closed.

But Leila's post on the Treats Truck Stop cheered me up a little, because at least the Dessert Truck's bizarro cousin is succeeding in its place.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Treats Truck Stop

This evening I was in Carroll Gardens for a class at the Brooklyn Brainery. I wanted a hot chocolate to drink in class.

This should have been an easy goal, but I will tell you that I walked the length of Court Street, from the Carroll Street subway stop to the Brooklyn Brainery at West 9th Street, and I could not find an appealing hot chocolate to go. Anywhere. A few coffee shops were closed. One cafe offered me a three dollar cup of Swiss Miss, if you can believe it.

When I reached the Brainery, I still had a few minutes before my class was due to begin. "I will walk just one block farther south," I vowed, unwilling to give up my clearly doomed dream of hot chocolate.

So I walked one block further south. And lo! Across the street, through the darkness, and the rain, and the fact that I wasn't even wearing my distance glasses, I spied a symbol that I recognized. And that was the symbol of the Treats Truck.

I recognized the Treats Truck logo because I received their cookbook for Hanukkah. To date I've tried making only one of their recipes (it was for a non-chocolate cookie, which is why I haven't written about it), but I'm looking forward to baking all the rest.

I flung myself into the Treats Truck Stop all but shrieking, "YOU MUST HAVE REAL CHOCOLATE. YOU HAVE SAVED ME."

I was right. Not only did they have non-Swiss Miss hot chocolate, they had Mexican hot chocolate.

I love buying Mexican hot chocolate because, unlike normal hot chocolate, I don't know how to make it at home, and therefore I can more easily defend paying for it. In this case, paying only $2.72, which is rather a bargain.

The first thing the Treats Truck proprietor did was offer me free samples of their baked goods. I hadn't told her that I write a chocolate blog or anything. She just wanted to share. She cut me off a piece of the pecan butterscotch bar (delicious) and the Mexican chocolate brownie (even more delicious: just the right amount of chocolatey and spicy).

The Mexican hot chocolate that I ordered was smooth, thick, and lovely. It could have been more cinnamon-y for my tastes; it didn't have that intense kick of some Mexican hot chocolates. If you're not a big spice person, this might be a good way to ease into it. And I have a great deal of respect for the fact that they offer a "small" and a "large" cup, and the "large" is so large that it was daunting even to me. It can be very hard to find places that will sell me hot chocolate in big enough quantities.

I drank my hot chocolate all through my class. Just kidding -- I finished it in the first ten minutes. Either way: I think it helped me learn way better.

BOTTOM LINE: Without question, Treats Truck Stop is your best option for hot chocolate, baked goods, and other treats anywhere between Court Street at President Street, and Court Street at Garnet Street.

San Francisco

Yes, in this post I review San Francisco for its chocolate.  I am an ambitious man.  As you will soon be able to tell from my description of all the chocolate I ate in my ONE DAY in SF.

Double Rainbow's Ultra Chocolate Ice Cream at SFO

I got started before leaving the airport:

proof: clearly airport escalators

Honestly?  It was really good.  Off to a great start, with chocolatey chocolate ice cream.


I've liked Tcho for a long time.  I first encountered them years ago at the Chocolate Show.  Their thing is to make "flavored" chocolate without using any flavoring ingredients -- just chocolate, sugar, soy lecithin, and vanilla.  Their "flavors" are "fruity" (from Peru), "citrusy" (from Madagascar), "nutty" (from Ecuador), and my (obvious) favorite, "chocolatey" (from Ghana).  These origins are no accident -- Peruvian chocolate is famously fruity, while West African chocolate (especially from Ghana) is by far the most common chocolate we eat, so we identify it as quintessentially "chocolatey."  (Also in the works are floral and earthy bars.)

I stopped by Tcho twice -- first I picked up a small "chocolatey" square and a 99% blend bar (chocolatey and nutty).  

they gave some explanation for their complicated patterns (both on the wrapping and printed on the chocolate), but i don't really remember it.  pretty though!

I seriously recommend all of Tcho's bars.  It's a great way to develop a chocolate vocabulary and to familiarize yourself with different origins' different flavors.  The ingredient list for their 99% bar says it includes only cocoa beans, so it might actually be 100%.  It tastes it.  Good but bitter.  I also got a slightly disappointing ice cream pop of some sort:

oh, hello there, california.

I later returned to Tcho to do a (free) factory tour, which they seem to offer multiple times per day.  No photos were allowed, so this is all I managed to take:

you may notice that subhumans patch.  it is actually a subhummus patch.

It was a good tour.  I already knew a lot of what they were teaching, but it was a really solid background on the making of chocolate.   They also gave out samples of all their dark chocolates, as well as several milk chocolates -- specifically a "classic" milk chocolate and a "cocoa" milk chocolate.  Both were delicious, and both were as described.  Obviously, I preferred the latter.  After the tour, I had to make several more purchases:

purchase batch #2.  in the background: prescription bottles for a chocolate a day.

I got a Tcho Shot -- a shot of melted dark chocolate -- along with some chocolate-covered nibs and some more "chocolatey" squares (for distribution throughout my trip).  The shot was excellent, but actually less thick than I expected when compared to something like the hot chocolate at Grom or DT Works.  The nibs were good, too, but were not as "pure" as most Tcho products.  They were made with confectioners' glaze, among other ingredients.  Tcho usually prides itself on tempering its bars to get a shine without any glaze, but that's obviously much more difficult -- if not impossible -- when trying to coat nibs.

Scharfen Berger

Scharfen Berger has moved their factory from SF to Illinois, but they still have their outpost at the Ferry Building.  They sell stuff there that you can't get elsewhere:

i ate most of the chocolate before i remembered to take a picture :(

I tried a whole bunch of things, and most were really good, but I'm just not as much of a fan of Scharfen Berger as many others.  They really like fruity chocolate, which is just not my thing.  I tried some mint bark, which was delicious, and their bonbons were of course good quality, but I was not wowed.


Recchiuti is a SF-based chocolatier whose shop is also in the Ferry building.  My trip just having gotten underway, I was still just whetting my appetite, and I picked up a brownie, bar, and some bonbons:

i'd only eaten about two pounds of chocolate.  appetite: almost whetted.

The bar was good but not extraordinary.  I always love bars with nibs, and this had a nice smokey flavor, but I couldn't get too excited about it.  The two bonbons were a step up.  There was a very dark "force noir," which was good, and a Venezuela-origin bonbon, which was even better.  Best of all was the brownie.  It was chocolatey, fudgey, and delicious.  One of the best brownies available anywhere.

Neo Cocoa

I had wanted to try Neo Cocoa, but I couldn't figure out a way to get any.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across there table in the Ferry Building totally by accident -- and they were passing out free samples!  Most of the products available were flavors, so I settled on the mint.  It was ok, but nothing special.  I'd like to try something purer by them.

Fog City News: Labooko 100% Peru and Amano 70% Dos Rios

Many cities in the US have unassuming shops with excellent chocolate selections.  In New York, the classic example is The Meadow.  In SF, it's Fog City News.  Outside of chocolate, the two shops could not be more different.  Fog City News is exactly as described.  It sells newspapers and magazines.  The Meadow sells salts and bitters.  But they actually have a startlingly similar chocolate collection, which speaks incredibly well of both places.  (Though Fog City News is consistently $1-$2 cheaper per bar.)  I took the opportunity, of course, to pick up two bars I had not seen elsewhere, as recommended by the proprietors.

it looks like a book.  leila loves books.  but she probably wouldn't love this bar.  MYSTERIES.

Labooko is an Austrian company, and the packaging and bar is possibly the most beautiful I've ever seen.  Their 100% bar is a Peru origin.  Peru is typically my least favorite origin, because it is typically the fruitiest.  This bar, though, was exceptional.

even the bar is SO PRETTY.

At 100%, it's a slow eat, so a lot of people got a chance to taste it.  Even people who didn't like 100% bars liked this.  Possibly the fruitiness offset some of the bitterness.  There is only one caveat: after you eat this, everything else just doesn't taste as good.  Normally you start with the darkest chocolate and work your way down (or else the dark just tastes too bitter in comparison).  Trying that with Labooko is a mistake.  I can't tell you why.  Maybe it's just so good that everything else becomes disappointing.  Fortunately, I saved some of the other bar I purchased at Fog City after initially eating some subsequent to a bite of Labooko:

at my cousin's house the next night.  all the doors were made of glass.  including the bathroom doors.

Amano is a Utah-based company, and I purchased a 70% Dominican-origin bar.  I like that each square has the logo:

Eating it separately from the Labooko bar, it was actually quite good, though by no means my favorite from the trip.

See's Candies

See's Candies is famous in SF.  It's an early career Warren Buffett acquisition, and one can see why.  They do a great job of producing delicious, candy-quality chocolate.  The 62% "dark" chocolate bar had milk in it. But it was still delicious.  The bonbons there cost half the price or less as compared with many of the other places I went, but they too were delicious.  They would never be mistaken for something snobby and artisanal, but that's not what they are trying to do.  They were extremely chocolatey, and they tasted great.  Every See's I saw had a line, but a short line, which is a pretty good indication that they are doing their business right.  Nice job, Warren.

Cocoa Bella: Mary's Truffle and Bon Bon and Christopher Elbow Bon Bon

My last chocolate stop was Cocoa Bella.  Cocoa Bella is a chocolate importer.  They don't make their own chocolate, but they scour the world for the best bonbons and truffles.  They have a couple shops in SF.  I went to one in some mall.  I asked for guidance on the chocolatiest items they had, of course.  I was served a truffle and bonbon from Belgian chocolatier Mary and a bonbon from the local SF Kansas City-based chocolatier Christopher Elbow, whose (San Francisco) store I did not have time to seek out (thanks for the correction, Elaine!).

The Mary's truffle completely blew me away.  It was the first time since Bespoke Chocolates closed in NYC that I'd been so blown away by the quality of a truffle.  I thought there was no way that they would replicate the quality in their bonbon, and I was once again blown away.  It was incredible.  I was so impressed, actually, that I went all the way to Brussels to visit their flagship store and purchase even more of their products.  This is not a joke.  That review is still to come.

The Christopher Eblow 70% bonbon, in comparison, was bound to disappoint.  It was smokey and not chocolatey enough.

(As a side note, I did not make it back to XOX Truffles, but I had been there previously, and it is very good, though not particularly outstanding.)

Bottom Line: Honestly, San Francisco gives New York a run for its money on the chocolate front.  In any case, the two are certainly the top two chocolate cities in the USA.

Friday, January 25, 2013

You're Welcome

The things we've done for you, and you still never call.

Arancini Bros

Arancini Bros is a little storefront in Bushwick that sells rice balls and that's it. Obviously most of their rice balls are savory, because that's what rice balls are. But one of them was Nutella-filled. So that is the one I got.

It was weird. It was warm and gooey, which is good. The outside was fried, which is awesome. I love fried. The next layer was rice, kind of like dense rice pudding, and that was the weird part. I am not a rice pudding fan. The texture throws me off. So I wasn't into that part. The core of the ball was a glob of Nutella. That part was obviously delicious. How could it not be?

I wish there had been more Nutella in this thing. Mostly it just tasted like a savory rice ball, which was disappointing because really I was in the market for dessert.

BOTTOM LINE: A Nutella-filled rice ball is an original product that you're unlikely to find in many places. But to get full enjoyment out of it, you should be someone who a) likes rice pudding, and b) is not looking for a super-chocolatey dessert.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Foray to Massachusetts #6: Trident Booksellers and Cafe

As a native Bostonian and a book lover, I have a big soft spot for Trident Booksellers and Cafe. Trident does both its jobs equally well: the cafe part serves delicious food, and the bookstore part is a well-stocked independent bookseller.

Trident is the sort of place where you want to get a hot chocolate and buy a book and just curl up and hang out for hours. Especially because the hot chocolate looks like this:

Often on this blog we laud hot chocolates that are basically bars of melted chocolate. Trident's hot chocolate is not one of those. It is a different breed, one that involves a fair amount of milk, too, and whipped cream, obviously. But the chocolate still shines through. It's frothy and warming and just the right amount of sweet, and it makes you feel like a kid at a soda fountain. It's not the most artisanal hot chocolate in downtown Boston, but it is one of my favorites.

BOTTOM LINE: Why doesn't every bookstore sell hot chocolates like Trident's?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Foray to Massachusetts #5: Area Four

When you read the following description on a menu, you don't have a choice; you have to order it and see what happens.

"Take 4: Chocolate-Peanut Cake, Cream Cheese Mousse, Caramel Sauce & Pretzel Bits"

Here is what happened:

This delight was from Area Four, a pizza shop and bakery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I enjoyed everything I ate at Area Four, and this cake was no exception. I give full points for creativity.

BOTTOM LINE: Whenever you see a menu item with this many delicious-sounding components, buy it. Seriously, it's not like you're going to bake your own chocolate-peanut cake with cream cheese mousse, caramel sauce, and pretzel bits any time soon.

Brownie Cascade and Zanzibar Chocolate Ice Cream at Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream in Madison, WI

Ice cream in Wisconsin: probably good, right?  That was what I was thinking when I arrived.  My friend Tasha recommended Chocolate Shoppe, which unsurprisingly got me even more hyped.  Upon seeing the display and ordering ("Zanzibar" dark chocolate ice cream and "Brownie Cascade" chocolate ice cream), my excitement reached its peak:

To answer your question, Yes.

But then I was talking to the nice Wisconsonite behind the counter, and she made some quip about Wisconsin being better than New York.  So of course I went to the back of the shop with a mission not to like this ice cream too much.

I failed.  The ice cream was great.  It wasn't too artisanal.  Probably because you do not have to go through Brookulean efforts to find high quality dairy to make it.  They instead focused on making great, super flavorful ice cream.  This stuff holds up to any chocolate ice cream in New York City, period.

Bottom Line:  If you find that somehow you are in Madison, this will cheer you up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Amedei I Cru Napolitains

This was a gift from picture book author extraordinaire, Ame Dyckman. Ame is a generous soul with extremely good taste in chocolate.

But what is inside that box? you want to know. Well, let's take a peek.

It contains little boxes of single-origin 70% napolitains! There are six little boxes total, and each one contains six little pieces of chocolate.

I conducted a taste test with David and another friend-of-chocolate, Austin. We all agreed that our favorite was the Venezuelan bar. That is often David and my favorite. David says that Venezuelan chocolate has a certain brightness to it, and that's why we like it so much.

For those in the know, you will see a rare origin here -- Jamaica! We were all excited to try it, but we quickly discovered why it's so rarely seen -- all three of us agreed that it was standards of deviation worse than any of the other origins. (Austin's reaction was best.  After David and I expressed our displeasure, he uttered the following: "I kind of like this one! Oh.... oh no... then I swallowed. It was okay; then it wasn't okay.")

But we were very glad foe thr Jamaica bar's presence, because it was a truly educational experience for us all. And that is what we are all about here at Chocolate NYC -- education. You know. For the children.

The Madagascar origin provided the most dissent, as it often does between David and me.  I love it, like Austin and most normal humans, but David finds it too raisen-y or cherry-like or something.  (He can never make up his mind.)

Each of the varieties was unique, though. It's extraordinary how much of an impact beans' origins can have. All of these bars are 70%, but they are incredibly easy to distinguish, even blind. In any case, if you've never sat down with six single-origin bars and appreciated the range of chocolate tastes that are out there, I highly recommend this Amedei box.

Also, if you like opening up little colorful boxes to discover what is inside.

BOTTOM LINE: A great way to explore the range of tastes that are available at 70%.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Edward Marc Chocolatier, Pittsburgh

I've been traveling a lot.  When I wrote this, I was in Arusha.  As I post this, I am again in Arusha.  In the interim, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  NBD.  But I started my trip humbly, in Long Island, Rochester, and Pittsburgh.

I basically did not procure any chocolate that whole leg of my trip.  It was quite the disappointment.  But when I was traveling with my friend Tasha from Detroit to Chicago a few days later, she greeted me with chocolate from Pittsburgh to make up for what I missed:

It was mostly really great.  The chocolate was chocolatey.  They didn't try any funny stuff.  The bon bons were top tier.  The only thing that was disappointing was the pumpkin truffle lolipop:

Neither pumpkiny enough nor chocolatey enough.  It tasted mostly of pumpkin pie spices.  

Otherwise, though, I have to recommend Edward Marc.  Pittsburgh is not known for its chocolatiers, though I'm sure a local could show me some great spots.  Edward Marc caught me by surprise, and it is great.

Bottom Line: When you are traveling and are negligent in your chocolate purchasing duties, it is useful to have good friends at your back.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Olive's hot chocolate

Olive's is a charming little sandwich store and bakeshop in Soho. It's a small storefront without seating, but they generally have delightful lunch options for takeaway.

I saw a cute, old-fashioned wood sign hanging on the wall that said "hot chocolate," and I was intrigued. Then I saw the listing on the menu for "French hot chocolate," and that sealed the deal. I love French hot chocolate! Maybe I like Italian and Belgian hot chocolates slightly better? But French is really top-notch. David recently got back from Paris, by the way, and soon will have words for you about the wonders of French hot chocolates.

Anyway, I ordered a French hot chocolate from Olive's. Massive disappointment. It was very frothy, which is in a way a nice change from all the hot chocolates I drink that are basically bars of melted chocolate. But it was very not chocolatey. And it was presented to me at a lukewarm temperature. So it was neither particular "hot" nor particularly "chocolate." Really it tasted like slightly warmed frothed milk with a lot of sugar in it.

BOTTOM LINE: Neither the best hot chocolate you can find in Soho, nor the best food you can find at Olive's. Stick to their sandwiches and baked goods.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chocolate Cake at Cafe Blossom

Cafe Blossom is a surprisingly delicious vegan, kosher restaurant, with multiple related but slightly different chains around the city.  The one on the Upper West Side, at least, has chocolate cake:

So we talked about problems with kosher chocolates, but there was some follow-up discussion that yielded a conclusion that the problem wasn't necessarily either the kosher stuff or the dairy-free stuff but rather the combination.  But the conclusion was based on the idea that we Jews have not done as good a job as vegans have in making chocolatey, dairy-free desserts.  But in this cake, we have not a dairy-free product made by people who keep kosher but rather kosher products made by vegans.  This turns out much better.

So the floury cake part is going to be a problem.  It's delicious but a little dry.  But vegan chocolate mousse made by vegans is much better than regular kosher parve chocolate mousse.  Cafe Blossom has done a great job using the mousse to mask a slightly dry cake, and the end product actually winds up totally great.

Bottom Line:  For vegan food and vegan chocolate dessert to follow, Cafe Blossom is a really excellent option.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zingerman's Bakehouse Brownies

You cannot go wrong with sending a food-lover gifts from Zingerman's. Last year for Hanukkah I received six pints of their gelato in the mail, and I was in heaven. My freezer was in heaven. I would just stand in front of my freezer and take random spoonfuls of different flavors of gelato and mix them together in my mouth, and it was heaven.

This year at my office we received like six types of Zingerman's brownies.

Zingerman's brownies have FLAVORS. Like there's one with ginger. And one with orange and almonds. According to their website, one that uses amaranth and quinoa. That sounds kind of gross. But honestly I've never tried anything gross from Zingerman's, so I'm going to assume that even their healthy brownies are delicious.

BOTTOM LINE: If you need to ship a gift to someone who loves sweets-- for example, me-- start here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nunu Hot Chocolate

Nunu Chocolates are for sale in many NYC stores, and apparently they have a "flagship store," too, in Fort Greene. But I first tried a Nunu product at the Union Square holiday market.

I think some people go to the holiday market in search of presents for other people. I went in search of hot chocolate. For myself.

The Nunu hot chocolate was a delight: very thick, just the way I like it. The consistency was a little off-- it was lumpy in ways it should not have been. But I'm going to give them a pass on texture because clearly serving pre-made hot chocolates when you're running a stall outside in 30 degree weather is a challenge. The taste was so good that I would definitely order this again from their "flagship store," where I assume the texture issues would be much more easily addressed.

BOTTOM LINE: Another good option for people whose definition of "hot chocolate" is, basically, "a bar of melted chocolate."

Chocolate Making!

My friend Leda makes chocolate.  Not bean-to-bar, and mostly raw, but nonetheless, the results are delicious.  I was lucky enough to be able to join in on one the sessions.

First step is to melt cocoa butter:

Then, add whatever you want.  Principally cocoa powder, but also sugar or agave or honey or whatever sweetener you want.  Then, if you are Leda, you add spices like maybe cinnamon.

Next, the mixture is poured into a mold:

And frozen:

We made four different types.  One using just cocoa powder and sugar, one using honey and spices, and one using agave and sesame.  The sugar ones (above) kept some granularity, and the honey ones (below) were a bit sticky.  Leda likes agave, because it gives the right consistency.

I personally liked the sesame seeds, so we made a fourth batch with sugar that went overboard on the sesame.  Still delicious:

Bottom Line: We are chocolate scientists.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Manhattan Espresso Cafe: Featuring Coolhaus and Doughnut Plant

Manhattan Espresso Cafe is right by where I work.  It's a tiny shop.  It sells coffee.  And probably espresso.  But it also sells things made of chocolate, like this muffin:

lies and the lying muffins who tell them
the truth revealed
Add caption

I like that it's wearing a disguise.  Like, "No, don't buy me and eat me; I swear I'm not chocolate."  Biggest liar of a muffin I've ever seen.  But oh so delicious!

They also sell chocolatey products made by others.  Coolhaus is a popular ice cream sandwich food truck.  They do the right thing and put their ice cream between two excellent cookies.  But of course the only right type to get is the chocolate ice cream between chocolate cookies:

we should do a "worst of david's pictures" sidebar.  this would be up there.

They sell them by the half-sandwich, which is really the perfect lunchbreak-sized amount.  And trust me: the quality is excellent.

They also sell Doughnut Plant donuts.  Doughnut Plant is the most famous and probably best doughnut shop in the city, but it sits in a relatively inconvenient corner of the Lower East Side.  Recently, they've wised up and started distributing a bit.  Manhattan Espresso Cafe is here to help.  This is a donut that looks really chocolatey, and when you bit in, there is a gooey chocolate center:

in contrast, this is the george washington of donuts

As you guys know, I love gooey chocolate centers.  This is my favorite donut in NYC.

Bottom Line:  A convenient spot to get both excellent proprietary baked goods as well as top-of-the-line distributed chocolatey items.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chocolate Snowballs at Zucker Bakery

Not long ago, Leila and I stopped by Zucker Bakery to try their widely-loved Chocolate Rose.  Unfortunately, given that we are both employed, by the time we got there after work, they had sold out.  We were, clearly devastated. So we tried the Chocolate Snowballs instead:

These are somewhat similar to Momofuku's cake truffles, but made with coffee and rolled in coconut, or sprinkles:

Normally, the coffee and coconut would scare me off, but these were actually really good.  They were fudgier and more chocolatey than I was expecting.  When we finished, Leila and I promised to return for the Rose... which unfortunately remains on our bucket list.

Bottom Line: Like cake truffles, but more chocolatey, and with coffee.  If you like those three things, you will love these.  If you like two of those three things, you will still probably like these a lot.

ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM LEILA: I don't even like coffee, and I enjoyed these. The chocolatiness made up for the coffeeness.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

David's Belated Chocolate Show Haul:

Hello, friends!  Sorry this post is so long delayed, but I am working through quite a backlog of chocolate that I have consumed, and I have much to share.  This post is long, and expect more such posts to come.  Here, I cover everything I bought at and consumed after the Chocolate Show back in November.  This included, basically, everything.  In fact, I purchased so much chocolate at the Chocolate Show that the original list of labels for this post exceeded Blogger's character-limit.

Jean-Luc Pele:

Jean-Luc Pele was one of the highlights of the Show for me.  They are based in Cannes.  Why, I couldn't tell you.  The list of cities in which they sell their chocolate is as follows: (1) Cannes.

you can't make fun of this box.  it's beautiful.

Of course, they do deliver... to other parts of France.  This is all quite distressing.  I was just in Paris, and I almost made a friend order some in anticipation of my visit but thought (correctly, as you shall see) that Paris would have enough exquisite chocolate to entertain me.

In any case, I bought the dark chocolate bonbon tasting box, which included a fabulous, thin dark chocolate bottom layer.  Each of the bonbons was exceptional.  Some of the best I've had.  My only complaint was that the different origins were different to distinguish.  There was some sort of answer key included in the package, but even with its aid, it was incredibly difficult to tell one bonbon from another.  In summary: unbelievably delicious, but not ideal to the type of chocolate science experiments we like to conduct.

Brigadeiro Palace:

I also purchased a few traditional brigadeiros from Brigadeiro Palace.  We discussed them in our First Recap, now months ago.


Unlike Leila, I completely loved these.  I loved the traditional more than the dark chocolate or the brownie, surprisingly.  Leila's description that it tasted like brownie batter is pretty accurate.  Fortunately, I love brownie batter.  One thing that separates Leila and me is fudge -- I love fudge, and she doesn't.  The brigadeiros are fudgy.  If you are into that sort of thing, get on this.

 Maison Boissier:

At my most experimental, I purchased some floral milk chocolates from Maison Boissier.  This was definitely a mixed bag.  First of all, there were a couple pieces of dark chocolate that were truly spectacular.  As for the floral options, though, some were better than others.  That said, once opened, these went fast.

i can see your skeptical look from across the internet.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this purchase, even if it was flavored and sweet and a bit weird.  Sometimes it can be refreshing, and the dark chocolate petals are a firm reassurance that Maison Boissier understands how to do simple chocolate correctly.


We already covered the Eclat selection pretty thoroughly.  Basically, it was exceptional.  I don't know what it was about this toasted corn bar, but I completely fell for it.  If the idea of a toasted corn bar sounds intriguing to you, you'll love it.

were you intrigued?  i was intrigued.
they printed corns on the squares!!!

I also got a pack of the more traditional chocolate mendiants, of Tanzanian origin, at something like 80% chocolate.  After going out of character with the toasted corn, buying this was the least I could do.  And let me say -- more good decisions.  Top-quality, super-chocolatey dark chocolate, plus nibs!

why yes, my current reading selection is stuck in the middle ages

st augustine contemplaints the chocolate halo

Buzz Fudge:

We talked a little about Buzz Fudge before.  I am not really sure about the distinction between Buzz Fudge and Magnolia's Fudge -- they are clearly related somehow, and they are both Oneonta-based.  Possibly it's just a name change from one to the other or something?  In any case, the fudge is delicious.  I got the dark chocolate fudge.  I loved it.  It's totally different from Murdick's, which is firm and not-too-melty -- Buzz Fudge is spooned, almost like an exceptionally thick pudding.  A totally different delicious take.

H.S. Chocolate Co.:

H.S. Chocolate Co. we covered only briefly.  I purchased the pumpkin spice bar blind, without tasting it, as it was the season for it, and I was overcome.  A moment of weakness.  Definitely the biggest disappointment of my haul.  Still totally edible -- just didn't hold up to the proven hits.

pretty on the outside
pretty to an aesthete, but not to a chocolate lover!


On the first swing around, I saw there weren't many of these left, and I scooped one up.  By the time we went around the second time on our purchasing mission, these were gone.  And by the time it was in my stomach, I was exceptionally glad I had jumped the gun.

why, yes, this was hard to eat!  how did you know?


Leila and I were both incredibly impressed by Prestat, as we mentionedTwice.  Well, make it thrice.  Yes, they are the Queen's chosen supplier.  They had a high percentage, single-origin bar as well as a 71% West African blend.  The latter was more chocolatey, but the Prestat chocolatier had a clear preference for the fruitier former.  I bought the 71% bar and ate it happily.

I also bought their hazelnut truffles, which were excellent.  Just the right balance of chocolate and hazelnut ganache, without any inconsistent or otherwise problematic texture situations.

Pro tip: Prestat products of all sorts are available at Chelsea Market Baskets.

Bottom Line:  I am good at buying chocolate at the Chocolate Show, and these things are all delicious.